USDA modifies Shell Egg Surveillance Program sampling

June 17, 2021

Effective July 1, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) will modify its Shell Egg Surveillance (SES) Program’s sampling protocols for eggs examined under the Egg Products Inspection Act (EPIA).

The SES Program was established to monitor the quality of shell eggs distributed in commerce and control the movement, labeling, and sale of restricted and inedible class shell eggs. Currently, all shell eggs in a storage area within a facility are examined during a quarterly SES inspection. In facilities operating under USDA’s voluntary shell egg grading program, the SES inspector must re-examine eggs already sampled and certified by the AMS grader. The SES Program utilizes a less restrictive standard (U.S. Grade B) than the traditional standards applied under the grading program (U.S. AA or A), and the rate of non-compliance issues for officially graded shell eggs is extremely low.

Therefore, AMS is changing the frequency of re-examining USDA Officially Identified shell eggs packaged for the ultimate consumer from current sampling rates to a discretionary level. A discretionary re-examination will be conducted when a review of the grader’s records indicates recurring non-compliance issues, obvious mishandling of product is observed, or historical grading or SES records indicate a compliance issue associated with a particular size product or package.

This procedural change allows AMS to ensure efficient use of SES program resources while continuing the mission of controlling the movement, labeling, and sale of restricted and inedible class shell eggs.